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May 29, 2022 7:00 pm
The Bible predicts a time of unprecedented tribulation for the people of God at the end of time Faith will be in short supply. At the very end, Jesus speaks so that when he said will there be any faith when I come perilous times will come as evil men wax worse and worse. Paul speaks of a sequence of events that will precede the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we can get lost in our eschatology and but there's some things that are not crystal-clear but there are some things that are very crystal net passage in second Thessalonians chapter 2 and verse three Paul gives us a sequence of events that will and must precede the second coming of Christ. He says this in verse three of second Thessalonians chapter 2 that day.
Speaking of the second coming. That day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, two things must transpire.
According to the authoritative word of God prior to the second coming of Christ. There must be a falling away in a man of sin must be revealed. Jesus said that there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be, in his Olivet discourse Matthew chapter 24 he says this in relationship to that statement great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be, and unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved but for the elect's sake those days will be short unprecedented tribulation, the world will be ripe for judgment as evil and wickedness and darkness will grow in such proportion that at times it will appear that darkness triumphs over truth and extinguishes life itself. These are the issues that are passage this morning speaks to so let's pick up in were going to my messages concentrated in verses 11 through verse 15, but for the sake of those who are new with us and it's been a week or two since we were here. Let's engage in a quick review verse seven it says when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, the beast that will come out of the bottomless pit. It's the first time that the beast is been referenced. You can't think about that revelation without thinking about what Paul said in second Thessalonians chapter 2, the man of sin must be revealed. What we learn here when they finish their testimony in the face of opposition and hostility. The church that's represented by the two witnesses here will continue to bear witness of the truth and of the gospel and of a message of righteousness.
It echoes back to what Jesus said again in the Olivet discourse.
In Matthew 24 Jesus said, and the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. There something else that precedes the end. Okay, not only a falling away not only the man of sin being revealed but the gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world and this preaching of the gospel of the kingdom will go on empowered by Almighty God.
Notice those witnesses are revealed to us there in the early verses of chapter 11 and in verse three God says, and I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth.
That's the church that's its message. That's its mission to prophesy to testify in this world and then we go back to verse seven when they finish their testimony when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them.
Notice that there are restrictions upon the beast. He doesn't have autonomy doesn't have free volition after they finish their testimony when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them and kill them say will well if you're not aware that that's been the lot of the church of Jesus Christ.
Down through the ages you you're not very familiar with church history.
That's been the lot of the church people who have followed Christ.
What is it mean to follow Christ. It means to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. And we must be willing to follow even if it means death martyrdom for the cause of Jesus Christ you notice I read there.
What will happen. Truth will be mocked. In the end of the age truth will be mocked, and appeared to be triumphed over as its enemies gloat and celebrate the church's demise as it silenced truth will be trampled on in the street that's what they did to the Lord Jesus. It wasn't enough that they crucified him they mocked him, the put into an open shame. The gambled for his garments, they rejoiced over his demise. So why should it be any different for the church.
It's the same world at the same hatred and hatred they had for him is directed to those who follow him. But notice with me that, in contrast to the length of time the gospel is preached in verse three 3 1/2 years 1260 days 3 1/2 years.
In contrast to that assigned to the preaching of the gospel. How much time is allotted for evil. How much time is allotted for evil to be permitted to reign in create chaos in 3 1/2 days three and half days verse nine then those from the peoples, tribes and tongues and nations will see their dead bodies 3 1/2 days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves three and half days the time that God allows Satan and the beast for their final acts of defiance need to think for a moment about 3 1/2 days we know as we study numbers that the number seven is a number that represents completeness.
Remember the words of Christ unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.
So if seven days is completion fullness. God restricts the manifestation of evil to 3 1/2 days. God shortens that God puts at a time limit on it. Notice one other verse speaks of that very same thing God controlling sovereignly ruling over the affairs of even wickedness. Chapter 13 verse seven it was granted to him to make war with the Saints and overcome them. It was granted to him other words, he didn't have access. He couldn't do it without permission. It was granted to him to make with the saints, but God has shortened those days so I I'm sure much more could be said in terms of review, but we did get on to the text at hand and that is verses 11 through 15 and as we consider the text.
The passage for this morning. I want us to consider five things I want you to see number one a resurrection resurrection number two. A loud voice from heaven.
Number three and Ascension number four a great earthquake, and number five the rain of Christ. Let's walk through these points together.
Number one, a resurrection notice verse 11 now after the 3 1/2 days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Now is I've studied this, I'm convinced that were not to take this literally, but were to understand this symbolically representative Lee what we learn here.
Truth is not dead, evil will not ultimately triumph over truth and righteousness. How do we know that, but were told here that after 3 1/2 days after that shortened. The breath of life from God entered them when all seems to be lost when death and decay all around, I see how we not despair. How do we not continue to have hope, what and where is our hope, our hope is in the God breeze life into death. That's where our hope is after the 3 1/2 days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet when evil and darkness appeared to triumph in the death of Christ.
After three days there was a resurrection. What was the result will not just a level playing field, not just a neutralizing of the power of the devil, but the resurrection announced and ushered in victory over hell and the grave. Commentators wonder if the words of Ezekiel chapter 37. Worked on the mind of John the rev later when he penned these words so for our study this morning.
Turn with me to Ezekiel chapter 37. This is the passage dealing with the valley of dry bones. Ezekiel chapter 37 Ezekiel Ezekiel, the prophet speaks there in verse one of chapter 37 the hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the midst of the valley and it was full of bones. Then he caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there will there were very many in the open valley and indeed they were very dry and he said the May Son of Man can these bones live so I answered all Lord God, you know, and he said to me, prophesy to these bones and say to them, oh, dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones, surely I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you and you shall live then you shall know that I am the Lord. See the flesh profits nothing but the spirit gives life. The question there in Revelation chapter 11. Can the powers of hell hinder or prohibit for the power of God from working in the interest of his church is resurrection. I've applied it to the church, but there are those who applied to the nation of Israel, but the return from exile is pictured as a resurrection. That's what's being referred to therein.
Ezekiel chapter 37.
Some very much personalize it and there is a place for us to personalize that the new birth, the regenerating work of the Spirit of God is a resurrection, but the church is known times of of of darkness of ineffectiveness the Middle Ages when Roman Catholic Church was dominant there was very little light but God always has a remnant we know of the first and the second great awakening were God breathed life into his church were. It appeared to be for all practical purposes, dead. That's the resurrection in our passage want you to notice second went with me a loud voice from heaven. Verse 12 and they heard a loud voice from heaven a loud voice from heaven.
That phrase loud voice occurs 24 times in the book, but only one other place.
Is there a loud voice in heaven speaking that's chapter 12 in verse 10, where John says, then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven now salvation, and strength in the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ have come, verse 15, we have this phrase than the seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying loud voices that speaks of this throng of worshipers. But back to our text verse 12, chapter 11, they heard a loud voice from heaven. The question is whose voice did they hear whose voice did they hear a good many commentators believe they heard the voice of Christ, head of the church that raises the question. A loud voice from the throne of heaven.
Speaking does this symbolize the rapture of the church.
If the two witnesses are symbolic of the church is. I have suggested, they are then that becomes a real possibility, the what we are considering and what we are being instructed about is indeed the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and its rapture.
We need to continue in our study.
So we've looked at what a resurrection loud voice from heaven.
Let's consider an Ascension and Ascension, they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, come up here and they ascended to heaven in a cloud. So not only are we told a loud voice from heaven speaking, we have the exact words that are spoken and what are they come up here again is this the voice and the words of Christ to his church listen to the similar language that I think were all familiar with. If you want to turn to first Thessalonians chapter 4 verse Thessalonians chapter 4 going to look at verse 16. In a moment. But let me read the context begins at verse 13 were Paul's writing to the church at Thessalonica that I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep now verse 16 for the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord back to our passage Revelation 11 verse 12. Looking at the ascension voice from heaven saying, up here and they ascended to heaven in a cloud in a cloud that significant.
John the very first chapter of this book said this in verse seven, chapter 1 in verse seven is talking about the coming of Christ, and he says verse seven behold, he is coming. How is he coming, he's coming with clouds, and every eye will see him, even they who pierced him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. Even so. Amen. He's coming, he's coming with clouds back to our text in Revelation 11. The ascension come up here and they and they ascended to heaven in a cloud and and then it says and their enemies saw them. This is no secret rapture. Their eyes saw them and is not exactly what John said in verse seven of chapter 1 that I just read to you behold is coming with clouds. Every eye will see him, even they who pierced him.
And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him.
Every eye will see him. John says in chapter 1 verse seven. They ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. Clouds are associated with the coming of Christ, looked at it there in first Thessalonians 4 Matthew chapter 24 verse 30 speaks to that acts chapter 1 verse nine Christ was received up from the Mount of olives in a cloud Revelation 14 in verse 14 speak of the same and I know are moving quickly because we have time restraints. I know your mind is probably going to understand what we seen so far we've seen a resurrection in verse 11 seen a loud voice from heaven. In verse 12, we've seen an ascension in verse 12 notice with me.
Number four a great earthquake in verse 13 in the same hour there was a great earthquake and 1/10 of the city fell. In the earthquake 7000 people were killed and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven a great earthquake there are three times in the book of the Revelation that we are told of a great earthquake chapter 6 and verse 12. Here in chapter 11 verse 13 and in chapter 16 and verse 18.
Each one of those times. The period of redemptive history that is being spoken to. And of is the end of the age.
I'm not gonna take the time to show you that in chapter 16 in verse 18. You can look at that you can see that and verify what I'm saying to you is true. But let's look at the mention of a great earthquake in chapter 6, chapter 6, beginning at verse 12. While your turn in their let me remind you of how we are to read the book of Revelation we have seven seals, followed by seven trumpets, followed by seven files or seven bowls and we are to understand that is coming in consecutive orders not there.
The seven seals. Then there are the seven trumpets nor the seven bowls or vials which of your translation says this is Howard understand there are the seven seals the cover. Of history then God revisits that same period of history with seven trumpet judgment covering the same period of time, but in concentric circles. More information being told to and then the seven bowl judgments of the vile judgment so that's critical that you remember that and see that because we were looking at chapter 6 verses 12 through 17. It's paralleling the same period of time that were considering in Chapter 11. This is what the word of God says in chapter 6.
John says I looked when he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake know when I read this description of what's happening in the cosmos.
The only logical conclusion you can come to is this is descriptive of the end of the age. There's no turning back from this. This is a partial this is the end.
This is the end of the age to usher in a new heaven and a new earth. I looked when he opened the sixth seal, behold, there was a great earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth of hair. The moon became like blood in the stars of heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind than the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place in the kings of the earth. The great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains and said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb for the great day of his wrath has come, and who is able to stand that's the end of the age and that's what's happening here back in Revelation chapter 11 is a vivid description of the end of the age. The earthquake, it brings destruction and death 10th of the city fell 7000 people were killed, you say well that's pretty common. We see thousands of people killed in tsunamis and tornadoes and floods, peers and earthquake that kills 7000 people. When's the last time you heard any reporting on any natural disaster in God been referenced in any of it never while and say never but would have to go back through all those events maybe hear somebody speak of God, and it all know what's unique about Revelation chapter 11 what notice with me. What else the earthquake provokes verse 13 in the same hour there was a great earthquake and 1/10 of the city fell. In the earthquake 7000 people were killed and the rest were afraid. Okay, I've seen that you seen that you seen the tear on people's eyes.
The fear gripped by the power of a flood or a tsunami or an earthquake. What else does it say and gave glory to the God of heaven will gave glory to the God of heaven, we would fall out of our chair. We would fall off our couch.
Whatever other place we were viewing our TV screen. If that were to happen when we but that's what is being predicted how we explain that the moving of the spirit of God.
God in his mercy how we need to pray, old Lord Ian wrath remember mercy because that's what is being manifested here the wrath of God. Yet God is still working wooing drawing softening, beckoning men to turn repent. The Bible says there were people, the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. The rest will it says attentive. The city fell that left 9/10 of the city and it says and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. I don't know if that's 9/10 people gave glory to God gave glory to God, but there's hope there's encouragement there is 1/5 thing I want us to see this morning and what is that it is the reign of Christ is the reign of Christ see again. I just want to reinforce the way we must look at the book of the Revelation here if indeed were going to see the reign of Christ, and it is here in verses 15 through 18 would say well John put an exclamation point and be done. This is there's nothing more to be said. Why is there still chapters 12 all the way through 22 will because we still haven't seen the vile judgment the bowl judgments and so John's going to go back and revisit the same period of history and give us more detail. Notice with me again the reign of Christ. Verse 15 then the seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord in all of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever. The reign of Christ. There can be no doubt here that this that the end has come.
The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. Notice verse 16 and the 24 elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, we give thanks old Lord God Almighty, the one who is and who was and who is to come, because you have taken your great power and reigned. And rain, the nations were angry, and your wrath has come in the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should reward your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth. So the Lord begins his reign there. In the section. The time for his wrath is come the time for his judging and is time for rewarding comes as well. In verse 18. I was hoping that I'd be at this point. At the end of this exposition but I want to leave you with five lessons and applications. Again, what have we seen what we seen number one was our resurrection number two we saw a loud voice number three was on Ascension number four was on earthquake number five we see the reign of Christ lessons an application what is our task. What is our task as a church as redeemed people in this world at this time of redemptive history. It is to maintain our witness. It is to maintain our witness for Jesus Christ to remain steadfast regardless of how hostile things get, regardless of how much opposition comes our way again I remind you what does it mean to be a Christian. What is it mean to be a believer remains to be a follower of Christ to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.
It's not be foolish, must not be ignorant about what it means to be in this world, things are going to become increasingly more hostile. The society has become is going to become more and more intolerant of us that he is going to be turned up on us. This isn't a time for weak people, fragile people.
We need strength and we need fortified so lesson on our place, our task in this world. Application number two what we say in the light of these instructions. One reminded of what Dean Martin Lloyd Jones said that if he had one warning to usher what would it be when he preached and it was this flee the wrath to come flee the wrath to come.
While the door of mercy is still open. While we are. There's opportunity to repent and believe on Christ. Don't wait until the mountains are falling to the rocks are falling on you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Application number three must be assured that we are on the winning side. We are on the winning side. Yes, things are going to become difficult.
Yes, things are difficult. Pressure will continue to come upon us. But Christ will ultimately subdue all of his enemies under his feet.
Lesson number four.
Be open to change. Be open to being changed by the revelation of the word of God. Do not be a slave to a particular position.
Perhaps if you fail, we must let the Bible inform us and let the Bible carry us where it takes us. What I mean by that I'm not gonna die on this hill right I'm not going to die on this hill but there seems to be an awful lot of logic and scriptural support for a post-millennial tribulation position right post-millennial tribulation.
All of this comes before God pours out his wrath when he reigns when he takes his place. Then judgment comes wrath comes but not before. Listen to what Paul said in first Thessalonians chapter 5 verse nine.
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a wrath reserve for all unrepentant, defiant, rebellious, stiffnecked people, but that wrath is been exhausted by Jesus Christ for the saints of God for the redeemed. So we have no fear and that measure. But again, just just be open. I know many are entrenched and have only seen it. Believe, for many years that the correct eschatological position is pre-millennial tribulation you going to have to wrestle with this passage going have to wrestle with this sermon that seems strongly to suggest a post-millennial tribulation position.
Application number five I'm concerned about those who hold strongly to and eschatological eschatological position that there's too much emphasis on what we are escaping from what we are being delivered from as opposed to what we are being delivered to write in both are true were being delivered from the wrath to come. Listen to what the emphasis seems to be, as Paul spoke to the church of Thessalonica, for the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shot with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds for what purpose to be delivered from wrath know to meet the Lord.
That's the emphasis of Scripture too much emphasis is put on. I believe in a pretrip wrapped rapture because God is going to deliver us from the wrath to come. No where to be delivered, but I think we need a shift in the emphasis not so much delivered from wrath, but being delivered to our Lord caught up together with in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. That's a place to say hallelujah praise the Lord. If we know where in that company so much saying the that it's an either/or to both hand, but it seems what drives I really want to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture because I'm to be rescued. While the been an awful lot of people who have suffered through an awful lot of persecution and on awful lot of tribulation and I have a hard time saying to them what you know what they tribulation that you suffer through that wasn't the great tribulation, and that saint in heaven says are you kidding me I was fed alliance. You tell me that wasn't great tribulation. So there's tribulation for the church perilous times, difficult times, but he will keep us his promise to sustain us in this world to empower us to be witnesses for him. So just my challenge there in my last point is just just a correction that we are we are excited more about the prospect of being with him. Seeing him being joined to him. That's the hope of the church. Let us pray father, thank you for the instruction in your word and we confess, I confesses a preacher. These are hard things to understand and rightly divide Lord I would ask that you would correct in the minds of those who've heard me this morning. Anything that I've said that that is inconsistent with what you really meant by what you said but those things that I have said that indeed confirm your intent. Would you confirm that in our hearts, Lord, grow your church. Build your church, strengthen your church.
Fortify your church. Use your church. We pray for Your Honor for your glory. We ask in Jesus name, amen